By DAVID COKER
Special to the Evansville Courier & Press
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Last month, I did attend a state tax rally organized under the rotunda of our state capital building by some of the same people instrumental in organizing a state property tax repeal alliance last year. Our efforts did virtually nothing to influence state spending or revenue policy aside from shifting about 30 per cent of the property tax burden to the sales tax, which now in Indiana, thanks to the severe economic recession, is woefully incapable of providing sufficient funds to pay for all the obligations of state and local government. I predicted all of this at the end of the last session of the General Assembly in a WNIN-PBS television interview with Courier & Press Editor Mizell Stewart III.
The rally was panned by Indianapolis media pundits who paid little attention to the specifics since there wasn't a single, simplistic message they could convey to their readers and viewers. They should all be ashamed.
I have been fighting these same battles virtually my entire adult life. The result is infrequent emotional depression and an awareness that storm clouds continue to loom over the financial future of this nation -- particularly future generations.
It's not so much the taxes that are levied at all levels of government that get me down, its the mountains and mountains of public debt which continues to pile up with no end in sight.
Let me share with you a personal experience to put a fine point on my concerns. Back in the early 1980s as a lowly copy boy at a small weekly newspaper on Capitol Hill, I became engaged in an independent research project looking into the exposure of agencies of the federal government to domestic credit markets.
These programs include direct loan programs, loan guarantees and the secondary market involvement of such entities as the proverbial Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac we have all heard so much about in wake of the subprime lending crisis.
Some of this involves programs considered "off budget" — those which are included in a completely separate appendix to the federal budget — one of the most dishonest and reprehensible practices perpetuated by administrations and Congresses controlled by both political parties.
During the early years of the first Reagan administration, the total amount of accumulated debt obligations including Social Security and other entitlement programs was roughly $4 trillion and change — give or take a few hundred billion.
I worked hard in an attempt to get a grasp of all of this and wrote manuscript after manuscript for various publications in an attempt to get something published on the issue.
Of course, I was kidding myself -- it was "Morning in America" and virtually nobody wanted to hear about the "crowding out" affect of enormous federal borrowing, stifling growth in the domestic economy.
Fast forward to the Obamanation with Messrs. Geithner, Bernanke and the contemporary cast of political thespians thrust upon the 24-hour media cycle.
I heard a report the other day that the current federal contingent liability has grown to over $55 trillion, with no end in sight. Participants in the various tax "tea party" rallies have been characterized by the Department of Homeland Security as "right wing extremists" and people who deserve to be monitored by law enforcement officials at all levels.
And we wonder why there is no public trust in our government. Is there any wonder?
Each week as I try to help young children at the Dream Center do their homework and learn sound moral principles, I wonder who, if anyone, will ever explain to them how the nation in which they are growing up got so messed up. We should all be looking into a mirror.
We all should have attended the tea parties. Trouble is, it was only a one-day story until next April 15th. Again the media will trivialize the tax protestors -- that is, unless a revolution begins. Then it will become a completely different story -- just as it did in the mid-1770s — a story which none of us will be able to avoid.
David Coker is an Evansville free lance writer.